The Institute for Works of Religion, known as the IOR or the Vatican Bank, is pressing charges against two former managers and a lawyer suspected of embezzlement, a press release from the IOR this morning announced.
The press release doesn’t name the chargees, but an exclusive story by veteran Reuters correspondent Philip Pullella does.
The Vatican's top prosecutor is investigating former bank president Angelo Caloia, ex-director general Lelio Scaletti, and lawyer Gabriele Liuzzo, for embezzling money while managing the sale of 29 buildings sold by the Vatican bank to mainly Italian buyers between 2001 and 2008, according to a copy of the freezing order reviewed by Reuters.
Sixteen million euros in Vatican Bank accounts owned the three men have been frozen.
The IOR press release says that charges have been filed, but the Reuters’ story says “the men have not been charged.”
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[Update, Dec. 6, 1 p.m.: Philip Pullella sent the following clarification: "The IOR has pressed charges against the three men as a damaged party would do, but the men have not been charged in the sense that the Vatican magistrate has not yet formally charged them."]
According to Reuters, the investigation follows an audit of the Vatican bank by non-Vatican financial consultants commissioned last year by the bank's current management.
According to Reuters:
Caloia and Scaletti regularly under-represented the proceeds from real estate sales in the Vatican bank’s official books. The men allegedly received the difference between the real sale prices and the amount officially recorded separately and often in cash, according to the order.
Some of the proceeds were deposited in a Rome bank account that was not registered in the bank's balance sheet, the prosecutor said. An estimated 57 million euros were allegedly siphoned off illegally between 2001 and 2008, he said. Liuzzi, the legal consultant, received part of the funds, the freezing order added.
Caloia and Scaletti have not responded Reuters’ inquiries. Liuzzi confirmed that his Vatican Bank account has been frozen.
The IOR press release says the action aginst the three men “[underline] its commitment to
ransparency and zero tolerance, including with regard to matters that relate to a more distant past.”
Don't forget that this week, Australian Cardinal George Pell, head of the Vatican's new finance and administration czar, has been touting the financial and administrative reforms now underway.